Ko Zaw Tun, a Burmese poet who wrote under the pen-name Khet Thi, was tortured to death in military custody, according to family members after his bruised and mutilated body was returned to them. Khet Thi was arrested May 8 at his home in Shwebo, Sagaing region, along with his wife who was later released. They were allegedly detained on suspicion of planning a bomb attack. His family said that internal organs had been removed from his body. Khet Thi was an outspoken opponent of the February coup d’état, in which the military ousted the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi. A line from one of his poems has been taken up as a slogan by the pro-democracy movement: “They shot us in the head; They don’t know the revolution dwells in our hearts.” (Myanmar Now, Asia News, The Irrawady)
As sweeps continue of supporters of the ousted government and its ruling National League for Democracy, the junta on May 8 designated the parallel Government of National Unity (NUG) a “terrorist group,” accusing it in connection with arson attacks and killings of members of the security forces.
A judge on May 10 ordered Aung San Suu Kyi to appear in person for the first time in court in two weeks. Although she has appeared at court hearings before via video link from house arrest, he Nobel laureate has not been seen in public since she was detained in the wake of the February coup. (Myanmar Now, Asia News, Hindustan Times)
Protest has over the past weeks started to give way to armed resistance—and not only in the peripheral tribal areas, but even the central regions of the Irrawaddy Valley. The NUG on May 5 formally declared a People’s Defense Force (PDF). The days have seen fighting between local PDF militias and the security forces in Sagaing and Mandalay regions. (Myanmar Now, Myanmar Now, AFP)
Photo via Myanmar Now
Burma: journalist gets prison for reporting on protests
A Burmese journalist has been sentenced to three years imprisonment after reporting on the anti-junta protests currently engulfing the country. Min Nyo, a reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma, was convicted under the recently revised Penal Code in military court on May 12. Section 505 makes it an offense to publish or circulate “any statement, rumor or report with intent to cause … any [soldier] to mutiny or otherwise disregard [their duty].” This is one of the first verdicts against media workers since the military coup.
“The conviction and three-year sentence handed down to Min Nyo show the appalling situation faced by journalists in Myanmar, where they risk life and liberty to shed light on the military’s abuses,” said Emerlynne Gil, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for Southeast & East Asia. “The military authorities are ruthless, determined to crush dissent by silencing those who seek to expose their crimes.” (Jurist)
Burma security forces arrest 39 suspected rebel allies
The Burmese military arrested 39 individuals on May 12. All 39 are suspected collaborators with an “ethnic minority rebel group” in Kayah state, from whom they are suspected of seeking military training. The individuals are also suspected to be responsible for several explosions and arson attacks in the Yankin village. Materials said to have been used in recent explosions in Yangon were confiscated in the raids. (Jurist)
Suu Kyi appears in public for first time since military coup
Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s ousted State Counsellor, attended court on May 24 for the first time since the military junta overthrew the democratically elected government in early February. Suu Kyi’s court attendance was a big step as all of her previous attendances have been virtual. She has been charged with a variety of criminal offenses, the most serious of which is leaking state secrets. (Jurist)
Aung San Suu Kyi faces new charges
Aung San Suu Kyi has been hit with fresh corruption charges, authorities announced June 10. The Anti-Corruption Commission found evidence that she had committed “corruption using her rank.” The accusations are related to the misuse of land for the charitable Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, which she chaired. (The Standard, HK, News18, India)
Aung San Suu Kyi faces new charges —again
Burma’s military authorities announced that detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be prosecuted for electoral fraud and abuse of power, along with 15 other senior political figures. The new charges were brought by the Union Election Commission as Suu Kyi appeared in court in the capital Naypyitaw. (AP, Reuters)